Sunday, November 21, 2004

Andrew and another Book Mess

I don’t know why this boy feels that he has to dump nearly ever book out of the bookcase, but he does. Andrew, Alex, and I were in the basement, the kids were just playing and I was lying down on the sofa. I hear the familiar sound of all the books being dumped out. At first I told Andrew to take the book that he wanted and put the rest away. He doesn’t do that of course, and I have to tell him again several times to put the books away. Soon telling turns to yelling and before I know it I’m like a drill sergeant. Andrew is a pretty emotional child, so, being yelled at tends to upset him enough to cry. I would prefer him to enjoy himself when he is with me, but I just can’t let him get away with everything. Yesterday when he put the books away, it was a bit easier, and I was able to give him a little positive reinforcement, but I just can’t find a way to be positive when nothing has been done to reinforce. That is when I get frustrated, and I’m sure Andrew does as well, he simply cant express his feelings, I can’t even say, “dad, I don’t want to”. All he can do is sit there and all I can’ do is keep yelling at him until he starts doing the work. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m glad that after he finished, I am able to tell him that he did a good job and give him a hug, tell him that everything is ok. I’d like to remind him that being a good listener is important and how much easier it would be on him and me if he would listen to dad the first time, but his attention span doesn’t make it much past the hug.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a thought here...loud volume does not necessarily tell a child anything other than you are mad at him and are intent on berating or intimidating him. This is something DH and I are trying very hard to remind ourselves, because yelling has been our knee-jerk reaction, too, as that's how each of us were raised. It's often ineffective, and yet we keep doing it, just because that's all we've known.

But we're discovering that we're not teaching the kids discipline that way; we're merely teaching them that they aren't worthy of being spoken to with respect. Our new approach (that we don't always successfully implement) is to get down with our face at their level, make certain there's eye contact, and then quietly -- even whispering -- state what needs to happen very matter-of-fact like, without anger. This takes a great deal of restraint when you're used to just letting the krakatoa blow open, but it seems to result in a positive outcome. It's often the case, that if kids hear yelling enough, they just totally tune it out, and all they hear is "Mwaa-mwaa-mwaa-waa-waah" a la the grown-ups in the Charlie Brown movies. So give this method a shot and see what happens. Can't be worse than hollering in their face. And thanks for giving me the reminder to do better at this myself.